After India’s independence in 1947, the area was part of the kingdom of Sikkim under the protection of India. During the Sino-Indian War of 1962, the Nathula Pass witnessed a few skirmishes between India and China. In 1975, the Sikkim formally became part of the Indian Union as India’s 22nd state. People in East Sikkim are mostly of Nepali ethnicity, arriving in search of jobs after the British appropriated the state in the 19th century. Prayer Wheel (Rumtek) – East Sikkim Other ethnicities include the Bhutias, the Tibetans and the Lepchas. Nepali is the predominant language in the region. Military wise, the district is a very sensitive area with the Indian army having control over most areas east of Gangtok and near its borders with People’s Republic of China and Bhutan. Visitors to this region are restricted and just a few areas are open to tourists in the areas east of Gangtok. Popular tourist locales are the Tsongmo Lake, Baba Mandir and the Nathula Pass. The Nathula Pass formed the offshoot of the ancient Silk Route which connected Lhasa to India. The pass and the famous Baba Mandir are open to Indian nationals only. To enter this region a special pass — The Inner Line Permit has to be obtained one day prior to departure. This pass is made through local tourist offices. Other tourist areas include Gangtok and the famous Phodong Monastery north of Gangtok and the internationally famous Rumtek Monastery.
It is now known as the directorate of Handicrafts and Handlooms as well as Government institute of Cottage industries ( GICI ). Started during the time of chogyals of sikkim, as a venture to preserve, protect and propagate the authentic sikkimese arts, handicrafts and skills of local and village artisans, it has become one of the major attraction for people visiting sikkim where beautiful souvenirs like capital, hand carved tables (Choktses), traditional handicrafts furniture, handlooms carpets and others products are produced and exhibited for sale.
The white Hall has historical value and is situated on the Ridge. It is a two storied structure and has typical British architecture and has built in 1932. It is so called not because it is, painted white but because it was in the memory of the first political officer of Sikkim, Claude White. There is an Officer’s club and a badminton court in the White Hall.
At White Hall, close by the White memorial Hall and just below the palace park is the more recent Flower Show Hall. Recent year this show has become quite popular and famous as there are flower exhibitions throughout the Year in accordance with the seasons and the flower in bloom.
This internationally acclaimed centre of Tibetan Studies and Research houses a vast collection of rare Buddhist books, manuscripts and over 200 Buddhist icons. About a kilometer downhill from the main market of Gangtok, the building accommodating the institute is an example of Tibetan architecture. It is world rebound and is one of the few of its kind. It has one of the world’s largest collections of books and rare manuscripts on the subject of Mahayana Buddhism plus many religious works of art and incredible finely executed silk embroidered thangkas.
This stupa encircled by 108 prayer wheels was built by late Trulsi Rimpoche in 1945-46. This is one of the most important and biggest stupas found in Sikkim. Inside this stupa, there are complete mandala sets of Dorjee Phurba (Bajra Kelaya), a set of kan-gyur relics (Holy Books), complete ‘Zung’ (mantras) and other religious objects. Around this chorten, which is one of the most important stupas in Sikkim, are 10 Mani-Lhakor (Prayer wheel) These prayer wheels are turned by the devout Buddhist while chanting ‘Hail to the jewel in the Lotus to invoke the Bodhisattva. It ia surrounded by chorten Lakhang and Guru Lakhang, where there are two huge statues of Guru Padmasambhava.
About 24 kms drive from Gangtok will take you to Rumtek Dharma Cahakra Centre. Built in 1960 by His Holiness the late 16th Gyalwa Karmapa, it is a replica of the original Kargyudpa Monastery in Tsurphu, Tibet, the seat of His Holiness the Gyalwa Karmapa Rimpoche, head of Karmapa sub sect of Kargyudpa order of Tibetan Buddhism. It now functions as the headquarters of the Dharma Chakra Religious Centre. Located within the comples are the main monastery, the memorial stupa of the XVI Gyalwa Karmapa inlaid with gold plate and semi precious stones, Shri Nalanda Institute for Higher Buddhist Studies and the Jamyang Khang Primary School. The centre houses some of the world’s most unique religious scriptures, manuscripts and religious art objects.
Located very close to Rumtek Monastery just half a kilometer before reaching Rumtek Monastery on the highway. This garden is a mixture of well tended tropical and temperate plants and trees can be found here. A huge greenhouse containing many species of Orchids has been constructed within the garden. A cemented footpath winds its way through the garden and is good for taking a relaxed stroll . The sprawling town of Gangtok can be seen on the hill opposite.
Located on a hilltop above Gangtok this monastery rebuilt in 1910 belong to the Nyingmapa Order and has once the hermitage site of Lama Drupthob Karpo renowned for his power of flying. An important seat of the Nyingma Order, the Enchey Monastery meaning the solitary temple was originally built with the solace that no other construction would be allowed near it is built on the site blessed by Lama Druptob Karpo, a tantric master known for his flying power. This 250 years old monastery has its premises images of god, goddesses and other religious objects. Every year around January ‘Chaam’ or religious masked dance is performed with great fanfare for two days.
Situated about 5 kms uphill from White Hall on a bifurcation road of the Gangtok – Nathula Highway, is a temple devoted to Hanuman, a God worshipped by the Hindu. On selected points of Gangtok and the adjoining rolling hills can be seen. From the temple itself, the snowy parks of Kangchendzonga present a panoramic picture. One also gets a bird’s eye view of the selep water works. Which supplies drinking water to the Gangtok town, a few hundred feet in altitude below Hanuman Tok.
It is situated 4km from Gangtok town from where one can have a clear view of opposite hills, beside Mt.Kanchendzonga. This site offers a breathtaking panorama of the majestic Mt.Kangchendzonga and surrounding hills. Built by the late King of Sikkim Sri. Tashi Namgyal, it is situated about six kilometers away from Gangtok on the North Sikkim Highway, this place offers an astounding view of the Kangchendzongda snowy range on a clear day. On the opposite hill, the phodong and the Labrang Monasteries can be seen.
Altitude-6,500ft. It is very small temple dedicated to Lord Ganesh, the temple is so small in size that can hardly accommodate one person and one has crowl to get inside it. From here you can get a panoramic view of Gangtok town and the Raj Bhawan complex and on a clear day get a breath taking view of Mt.Kangchendzonga
Located on a beautiful hill top it is a monastic institution established in 1961 by his Eminence Ludibg Khen Rimpoche,Head of Ngorpa, sub-sect of the Sakya Order,with the blessing of H.H.the Dalai Lama. This is only monastery of the Sakya Order of Tibitan Buddhism in Sikkim
Distance- 40 KM (from Gangtok) Altitude-12,400 ft. The drive from Gangtok takes about 2 ½ hrs. The lake is about 1 km. long and oval in shape, 50 ft. deep. This is an alpine zone and Snowbound from December to April and lake is regarded extremely Holy and situates on the old trade route to Tibet. It is also a home of Brahmini ducks besides stop over for various migratory ducks.
It takes the passenger to the highest point of the city of Gangtok covering the distance of about 1km in only seven minutes. Each cabin accommodates 24 passengers. The lower terminal station is located at Deorali Market, the intermediate terminal at Nam Nang and the upper terminal station is below the Secretariat (Tashiling). One can truly enjoy the panoramic view and thrilling rise as the Ropeway goes over the City. Tariffs for Adults is Rs. 50/- and Rs. 30/- for the children.
56 kms. From Gangtok is Nathula Pass, situated at an altitude of 14,450 ft. at the border of India and China. It has one of the highest motorable roads and is richly covered with varieties of alpine flora and fauna. A tranquil place to visit, Nathula is open only for Indian Nationals on Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday. The visitors have to get a permit from the Tourism Department through a registered travel agency.
Gonjang Monastery near Tashi View Point was established in the year 1981. The founder is H.E Tingkye Gonjand Rimpoche. He wasrecognised as an incarnation of Yolmo Terton Ngakchang Shakya Zangpo, a 15th century Nyingmapa Terton. The monastery follows Jangter tradition of Nyingmapa school of Tibetan Buddhism.
Pastanga in Assam Lingzey is located at an altitude of 1425 mt. it is two hour drive from Gangtok. The enchanting little village provided magnificent view of the mountain ranges. One can wander up lush green mountain trails where one comes across beautiful waterfall along the path. There are rare species of bamboos in dense rhododendron and magnolia forest. The tourist are provided with home stay facilities with organized cultural programme and local handicrafts show. It is also worth while to visit traditional houses of ethnic communities, some being one hundred and fifty years old Pastanga is also the take off point for Khedi trekking route.
Built in the memory of Harbhajan Singh, a sepoy in the 23rd Punjab Regiment, the temple lies between the Nathu – La and the Jelep-La Passes. Legend has it that he appeared in a dream a few days after he went missing while patrolling the border and expressed a desire that a monument be built in his memory. His fellow soldiers then built a monument that has over the year acquired the status of a pilgrimage centre. Believers leave a bottle of water, to be collected a week later to be used for its healing powers.
Zumrang Kagyud Monastery, located at Lingdum, East Sikkim is at a distance of about 20 kms from Gangtok. The present Gharwang Rimpoch is the 12th Successive incarnation of the glorious emanation of Zurmang Gharwang. A place worth visiting for its religious and exquisite architecture and serene atmosphere.
It is located at a distance of 25 kms from Gangtok having an area of 51.76 sq.km. The main vegetation found are oak, katus, kimbu, champa, thick bamboos and ferns. The sanctuary is also home to a large number of wild orchids, rhododendrons, etc. The richly forested area is known to be the home for various species of wild animals and birds. This area, located close to Gangtok, is also a short trekking trail.
The Aritar Lake (Ghati-Tso) near Rhenock, about 3 hours drive from Gangtok, is worth visitng. For those interested in spending a night or two in the peaceful environment, trekker’s huts, few lodges and a private resort are available. Other attractions are boating, visiting and exploring the way of living of villagers and also visit to the Lingsay Monastery and Manghim. A short trek in and around Aritar is a thrilling experience. A night spent in an old British built Bunglow of 1895 located half km below the lake could be an enthralling experience.